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  • Vanita Pal

Secondary 3: Rapid improvement in basic foundation of English

Let us face it. By the time you reach secondary school, you would have realised that it is not the same set of principles which you applied when you were in primary 6 or secondary 1. Secondary 1 was a different set of rules. You had to get used to a new syllabus and new categories which you had never thought of before.

When you began secondary 2, you found that the bar had shifted even higher and you had to grapple with new topics which meant that your subjective thoughts and views of society had to be given priority.

And it secondary 3, your topics had reached a whole new level. Did it not become similar to secondary 4 topics?

And the comprehension texts! Are those really about 800 to 1000 words in length? New standards, new rules and therefore new strategies had to be applied.

English is a language. And like all languages it depends on the way people apply their value of life’s expectations to it. New words are added to the dictionary all the time and new experiences flesh out the way we feel about situations which are always evolving.

If you really want to keep up with rapid improvements in your foundation, it means that you are keen to shift your bar a little higher. You are looking forward to improving our standard but edging forward a little at a time so that you will eventually meet the expectations of your secondary 3 syllabus.

All secondary 3 students would have found that language can be very difficult to understand. Language is growing all the time and the only way to keep up with it is to grow yourself.

How do you keep growing or improving your standard?

This is the million-dollar question. How do you improve your standard when your English foundation is weak?

There are a couple of ways I would like to draw your attention to.

First, there is the conventional way.

And then, there is the unconventional way.

The Conventional Way is to try to alter your basic foundation in English by giving it a jump-start.

Most people who have had a poor start in their primary school, had not been reading well. They would have found that by the time they started in secondary school, they were still using basic sentence structures and simple vocabulary words.

The Conventional way is to tackle this part immediately by increasing the strength of your vocabulary. I am sure you are not a newcomer to the ways of improving your vocabulary. Many people would have told you that you should read more books and start making notes as you read.

I know that most students know this. But getting them to really follow this strategy is not the simplest of tasks. Most students would rather Not read. And the ones who do read will find that notetaking when you are reading is a terrible chore!

Ok. So, not notetaking. Then what? If you do not like notetaking, try this. Try reading the word aloud and the meaning in your voice recorder of your phone. Just create a vocabulary file in your phone files and you will have a whole new set of vocabulary words every week. Even if it is just 3 words a week, it will be well worth it. Make sure that your effort is consistent and that you thoroughly understand the meaning of the word before you record it.

The Unconventional Way of improving your English Foundation

There are several unconventional ways for improving but I will only reveal the easiest way to apply. Needless to say, the easiest way is often the most practical and most students find that it will become a habit of a lifetime.

When you read a story book or novel, you will find that words pop out at you all the time. The conventional way is to record it.

Ok. So, what if you do not like reading story books? What if that had not been your hobby at all?

What do you do?

Alright, there is another way. Have you heard of audio books? I know, that is not the standard way. Books are meant to be held in your hands and read with reverence while your eye strayed over every word.

If you do not really have time or you prefer Not to read, audio books can give you the ‘real deal.’

There is the delightful book by Mark Twain, ‘Tom Sawyer.’ It is narrated by no less than Mark Twain himself and it is available on Youtube. All you have to do is to LISTEN.

Before you wonder what this is all about, let me tell you a thing or two.

Tom Sawyer is a classic. It is a wonderful tale of the adventures of Tom who is usually aided by his friend Huckleberry Finn.

If you do not have a background of classic reading, it is about time that you started on this. Audio books are delightful as it does ‘the reading for you.’ It is half the job done.

A lazy way?

It is better than not reading at all.

Mark Twain’s voice has an resonating cadence which is difficult to ignore. You will find yourself being hypnotised by his tone and the narrative about the various goings on of Tom. The balance and juxtaposition of characterisation is a sheer delight. And of course, Mark Twain does perfectly flattering character renditions by changing his tone for each character. Soon, you will be oblivious to Mark twain and will be swept along in the wonderful world of Tom’s adventures.

This is the unconventional way. It sounds like an adventure unto itself does it not?

It is only when you accept that English is more than just applying yourself to tomes of dry reading that you will discover that it can be perfectly delightful.

And it is to this world of delight that I would like you to be drawn to.

Pick your way. The Conventional or the Unconventional way?

Once you have decided, just approach it full throttle. I rather suspect that you will prefer the Unconventional way. And that will probably lead you to getting the book itself.

Yes, you will realise that your entire approach to language will change. You can actually change your foundation in Secondary 3. And your entire approach to your English subject will undergo a 180 degree change.


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